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Disneyland's Club 33

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New York Times Blogs

Secret Societies: Yale and Disneyland

June 21, 2007, 12:46 pm

By Mike Nizza

Tags: conspiracy theories

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The secret Club 33 Mickey Mouse ears, only available to 487 members. And whomever they decide to bring as guests. (Tim Rue/Bloomberg News)

Skull and Bones spent what must have been an excruciating day or so on news sites across the Web this week when The Associated Press put out a story about the Apache quest to retrieve Geronimo’s remains, a legend fortified with a few pieces of evidence.

Then, just like that, the story disappeared (or, just faded away on the Web, like everything else).

Today, another secret society was dragged out into the light by The Los Angeles Times. For years, this one has been sitting right before our eyes — if your eyes were focused on Disneyland.

Club 33, which was “created by Walt Disney himself,” has 487 members who “can request the presence of Mickey Mouse or any other Disney character at their meals.” The article goes on to reveal that they lock their doors (just like the Skull and Bones!) and require reservations (like … every restaurant in New York!) Freaky, The Lede knows, but keep reading.

To get into Skull and Bones, you need to get into Yale University first, and then reportedly lie naked in a coffin to confess your sexual experiences. At Disney’s Club 33, all it takes is patience (a loooong waiting list) and a $9,500 check. Either way, “strange cries and whispers” may be provoked, depending on the size of the bank account and intensity of sordid admissions.

The magic number of the Bones is 322; Disney’s is 33, which a forum on says refers to one or more of the following:

The year prohibition ended.

The age of Jesus when he died.

The rank of Walt Disney in the secret Masonic cult.

The internet is filled with myths about both of them, none quite solid enough to ever report as fact. Just Google Skull and Bones for all of its secrets. As for Club 33, the Los Angeles Times said “a vulture that can talk” hangs around the Trophy Room.

“Walt Disney intended to spice up dinners by having the vulture converse with guests,” the paper wrote. Genius.

Finally, The Lede will throw out the completely obvious question: Is there a connection between Walt Disney, Club 33 and Skull and Bones?

Bonus points for further connections pointed out in the comments, but only if they are proposed with a complete lack of seriousness. 34 comments so far...

1.June 21st,
1:11 pm Re: “Is there a connection between Walt Disney and Skull and Bones?”

IMHO, there is a connection only in the minds? of those who would create news rather than just report it.

— Posted by Robert Walton
2.June 21st,
1:25 pm Okay lets not get hysterical here.
Club 33 relates to the original 33 vendors who set up shop when Disneyland opened. Like Carnation Company. It had the Carnation Ice Cream Shop. Of course that was before Nestle bought Carnation back in 85. The club is a private place to eat. Where execs of the original vendors went to party. Club 33 served alcohol. Which was the big draw. (Now you can go out of the park to a new section where better restaurants exist and get a drink too.) The atmosphere in Club 33 is very formal and in fact seems pretty dated.

Another fact: Many of the original rides weren’t owned by Disney. That’s why they had the A-E Tickets. At the end of the month the proceeds were divided up based on the tickets turned in by ride owners. The park now owns all the rides.

— Posted by buzz
3.June 21st,
1:41 pm Knowing people related to Geronimo here in NM, it makes me sick to think about someone using my Great Grandpa’s bones for their “rituals.” If true, it is vulgar and obnoxious. The true disrespect makes me very sad for Harlyn Geronimo and his family and tribe.

Geronimo needs to rest in the Gila Wilderness where he was born. It is a beautiful area, truly representative of his leadership and power.

For some this is trivial and creepy, for others this is a family hardship. As Mr. Geronimo said, its like his great grandfather is still MIA/POW.

— Posted by Chris
4.June 21st,
1:43 pm The connection is that the members of both organizations are stupid.

— Posted by turtle
5.June 21st,
1:48 pm buzz, ya had to go and ruin all the fun. And I was just going to suggest that 33 was the year that Hitler took power, which given Disney’s proclivities might not have been all that far fetched, ah, well, another one gone

As far as the connection between skull and bones and Disney, I could argue that given that Dubya is a member that Disney and Skull and bones both have Mickey Mouse in them.

— Posted by wdef
6.June 21st,
2:27 pm Watched “The Good Shepard” the other day. Heavens to Betsy we’ve put the security and welbeing of the United States in the hands of these nitwits.

— Posted by Mark Klein, M.D.
7.June 21st,
2:29 pm The comparison is excellent.

And Yale and Disneyland share many qualities.

For example:

1. Yale designed its buildings in the 20th Century to emulate Oxford and Cambridge, using the tricks of Hollywood set designers to prematurely age the buildings (sand blasting the sidewalks and spraying chemical on newly constructed buildings to give them a darkened and sooty look).

2. Both institutions were meticulously designed “brick-by-brick” to create a sense of “reality”.

3. Yale was trying to create the impression that there was something special about the education it offered its students.

4. Disneyland was simply trying to create a fantasy world without the pretense of an Oxford Education.

— Posted by Peter Jensen
8.June 21st,
2:40 pm Dr. Klein, it seems that we both agree that Club 33 runs the CIA!

— Posted by James
9.June 21st,
2:50 pm What about “33? on the bottles of Rolling Rock beer? Could it be that Walt wanted to put the first Disneyland in Pennsylvania?

Perhaps the conspiracy is much wider than we all suspect…

(Yep, 33 words!)

— Posted by Clanque
10.June 21st,
3:00 pm Walt disney was a kinky country boy from Missouri who did not need - nor would he have been a part of - the frat boy mentality of skull and bones. He probably thought his kinkiness was way out there when it was probably just the other side of ‘normal’ on a bell curve.

Take Geronimo home. Now.

— Posted by Vanessa
11.June 21st,
3:01 pm Coincidence, I think not:

The much loved Walt Disney was in the film Reluctant Dragon (1941) with John Dehner. John Dehner was in Nothing Personal (1980) with Maury Chaykin. Maury Chaykin was in Where the Truth Lies (2005) with - wait for it - Kevin Bacon.

Now while some might pass that off as mere coincidence, with a little more digging the sinister links become all too apparent:

Father of contemporary loud mouth right wing print media, William F. Buckley Jr. who was a member of the Skull and Bones way back in 1950 and later went on to be the publisher of the National Review made a small appearance in the documentary ‘Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride: Hunter S. Thompson on Film’ (2006) with Sean Penn. Sean Penn was in Mystic River (2003) with … Kevin Bacon.

With such a low ‘Bacon Number’ the conclusions are obvious and inescapable…

— Posted by Max
12.June 21st,
3:09 pm The relationship between the two “secret” societies is that George Bush is a member of both. I have been told by a reliable source that Bush revealed, while nude in the casket, that his first kiss was with Jeb. Further, if you look closely, all white house dinners in the last seven years have had Goofy looming in the corner while guests enjoyed their caviar. Even more shocking is that when Goofy was caught with his mask off (by that same reliable source), it was none other than Cheney!!! Now, guess who is Mickey Mouse?

Disclaimer: When I said “reliable,” I may have meant “really high on mushrooms and hallucinating.”

— Posted by Conspiriment
13.June 21st,
3:17 pm Finally, an explanation for the “33? on the Rolling Rock bottle.

— Posted by Matt
14.June 21st,
3:37 pm Isn’t it perfectly obvious?

Skull and Bones can’t recover the remains of Geronimo because they were traded to Club 33 so that members of the former organization will all describe sordid affairs with the various disney mascots.

— Posted by Dan
15.June 21st,
3:46 pm I empathize with the concern of Apaches to make their ancestor whole.

But remember that the letter is based on the claim of someone around the age of 21 who went to Yale when it was essentially a finishing school for moneyed males. In other words, the prima-faciae reputation of the letter’s author does nothing to speak for its accuracy.

Those who look at a place like Yale from the outside see the secret societies as epicenters of some conspiratorial power. (See the linked editorial.) Those of us who actually went to Yale know that the societies are populated by seniors who, like college seniors everywhere, spend about a fifth of their time either drunk or hungover. Would a historian today cite an email about “tap night” (a yearly Society ritual) as a reliable document? I hope not.

Prescott Bush and the Bonesmen of 1909 may well have dug up an Apache grave in Oklahoma. And it may be the proper thing to do for Skull and Bones to return those remains. But none of what I read above givs me any reason to think that Geronimo’s bones are on High Street in New Haven.

— Posted by Clark
16.June 21st,
4:14 pm Here in New Haven, we have long known of the evil relationship between early cartoonists and Skull and Bones. As an example, the Katzenjammer Kids were the creation of Ralph Grindler, class of ‘77, who modeled them after the rambunctious German Princes Alfred and Doltz Whippengruber, of Saxe-Holstein, who matriculated during the 1870s, and never graduated, but returned early to serve the Kaiser. Later, they returned to New Haven from Hamburg on a secret mission to create the sandwich made known around the world by the owner of Louis’ Lunch.

— Posted by Albert Vosburn 17.June 21st,
4:14 pm They’re both Goofy!

— Posted by carnap
18.June 21st,
4:24 pm And then people wonder why our nation is doomed?

— Posted by Eric Macias of Princeton University 19.June 21st,
4:25 pm The Skull and Bones secret number is 322. I hereby divulge, for the first time, that its prime factorization is 2 x 7 x 23.

And please note that 23 is the *first* prime number for which the algebraic integers of its cyclotomic field do *not* form a unique factorization domain!!!

Accident . . . or coincidence?

— Posted by webelos 20.June 21st,
4:29 pm 33 X 2=66; add the 3+3 and you can achieve 666, which are the first three numbers of Dick Cheney’s social security number, and also the number of losses the Texas Rangers suffered under Bush’s ownership. Once again 33X2=66, which is the route from California to Chicago, where, at the age of 33, Al Capone allgedly masterminded the Valentine’s Day Massacre, and the amount of seconds it took Cheney to convince Bush that “Iraq is bad.” 24 hours in a day, 24 bottles of beer in a case. No coincidence here. Mickey Mouse rules, and naked guys in a coffin are not a turn-on where I live.

— Posted by richard 21.June 21st,
5:02 pm So members of Club 33 can “request the presence of Mickey Mouse or any other Disney character at their meals.”
Big deal. I can do that, too. The question is, will they come?
Cf. Henry IV, Part 1, Act III.

— Posted by aar:gh 22.June 21st,
5:35 pm Other trivia: Club 33 is upstairs above the Blue Bayou (33 == BB) at Disneyland behind a reasonably unmarked door (press buzzer, talk to speaker/microphone) enter foyer, ride up old school brass cage elevator. Enjoy.

— Posted by FivePointsJim 23.June 21st,
5:58 pm the only connection i can think of between walt disney club 33 and the skull and bones is that they are more tolerant to fascists. skull and bones members and disney can sure add a gentlemanly flair to the reality they are espousing.

— Posted by Ace 24.June 21st,
6:09 pm I don’t know of an immediate connection but I can propose one. Skull and Bones can dig up the famous anti-semite Disney’s bones and rub themselves or whatever they normally do. I’d bet the Yale boys have general leanings in that direction anyway. For reciprocity, the mouseketeers at 33 Flavors can audio-animatroic-ize G.W.Bush. They could rig it so Rove and and Cheney and I guess just about anyone with a buck could speak into a mike and the words would come directly out of W’s mouth. This avoidance of the Bushite brain would more accurately state the message and probably would be a big improvement in pronounciation. While one businessman is on the mike, another could work his arms and legs and maybe have him do a little dance. And they say secret societies are of no use to the public.

— Posted by Secret Man 25.June 21st,
6:16 pm During the 80’s there was a dinner at the Omni Hotel in Miami honoring the retiring CEO of Disney. As I recall one of the dinner’s sponsors was the International Center of South Florida. This was probably just prior to Michael Eisner.

What was impressive about the entertainment, was that several acts, including a mariachi band were brought in from Disney World Orlando. Mariachi Cobre played a spectacular rendition of Malaguena Salerosa. I found the CD about 10 years later.

This was far from secret and there were a lot more than one or two Disney characters. Entertainment was memorable.

As far as rumored secrets at Disney world,there’s a secret suite in the Disney Castle for corporate elite and there are wild parties that have been known to have taken place in the underground tunnels.

Ivy League schools are unique and they engender a very special camaraderie and closeness amoungst their students, which also makes for good alumni.

Secret societies may be a fact of life, and we may even have the minion of the mystic matzah ball, or the Washington secret lobbyist supper club. Humans have been known to conduct matters in secret for quite some time now.

— Posted by Shel 26.June 21st,
7:00 pm The bones of “Skull and Bones” when depicted on their crest slightly resemble murine, or mouse, bones (its obvious when looking at the lateral epicondyles). And, as we all know, mice-organisms have only 33 bones (head bone, lung bone and like 31 others…) It is also well known, and NO coincidence, that Mickey Mouse has about 33 bones- we know from his last hospital visit after a kid kicked him in the groin and he had an X-ray…

W’s dad got him into skull and bones.. he wouldn’t have made it in otherwise.

— Posted by bone-collector 27.June 22nd,
1:29 am Two more tidbits:

Disney’s father’s name was “Eli” (from Elias) and Yale students are called Eli’s after the founder’s first name, Elihu.

The “plus four” extension to the Anaheim zip code for Disneyland is 3232, which contains both magic numbers.

— Posted by DCharney 28.June 22nd,
6:19 pm Disneyland owned the rides from day one–there were no ride concessionaires, and A-B-C tickets didn’t arrive until the park had been open for several months. D tickets were added two years later, then E tickets came in July 1959. As for 33 original lessees, that’s possible, but remember that Club 33 was built 11 years after Disneyland opened.

There is no connection between Disney and Yale that I’m aware of, but there was a huge contingent of USC grads during the 60s and 70s. Is there a secret USC society?

— Posted by Alastair Dallas 29.June 26th,
5:17 pm Neither of these groups could be as creepy as the history of the Yale Admissions office. They capped the number of jewish students they admitted for years. They also photographed all students naked in the first half of the 20th century.

Most Alumni in powerful government jobs. Really creepy.
p.s.-”The Power of Priviledge” is good and is about Yale’s silly admissions history.

— Posted by Lady 30.June 27th,
12:11 pm 1. Both have “brands”? Bush on his tush (said from a heated coat hanger) and Disney from the time he was AWOL and kept in Fort Williams on Governors Island for missing the “Steamboat Willie” (Mickey Mouse captain)?

2. Both feature Sinfonians? (music fraternity members, a former 3 Cabinet post holder, 4 today, George B. (M.) Cortelyou, once a shorthand teacher in NYC who also was once Chairman of the Republican Party and early CEO of ConEd)

3. Both connected by the bones of “Mayflower” Puritan Isaac Allerton, of New Haven and powerful NYC merchant with a Eat River warehouse just outside the “Water Gate” in the “Wall” that became Wall Street (”foot of” once a slave market). Allerton’s bones have been moved to the cemetery Yale University maintains. The Mayflower Madam made Disney come to New York, maybe Bush’s father build Shea Stadium!

4. Either or neither nor are they run by women! Even Ralph Nader had an award from Yale Law but not my State Senator, Hillary Clinton.

5. Both cite “extended kinship” as truth also shown among the Apache by Morris Opler in his doctoral research at the U. of Chicago. He later went on to have three of his four briefs heard before the US Supreme Court for the rights of those Americans interned in the camps of World War II. None of those mentioned however have to my knowledge had a case heard a null connection.

— Posted by George Myers 31.June 27th,
1:45 pm To number 28 above. Allistar as a young auditor I audited a company owned by the disney daughters that owned several of the rides. So you are not accurate. And the tickets were used to distribute the ride proceeds.

— Posted by buzz 32.September 18th,
8:01 pm 1933 is when the United States forgot the Gold Standard(if you don’t know what it is, google it) that alone is proof enough for me. just search 33, michael eisner and all the connections with the secret societies. I dont care about the perceived perception of the 33 club, but instead the reality of its beginnings, regulars and going-ons are what may be interesting… regardless the connections are so vast that inquiry is almost futile.

— Posted by Adam 33.May 27th,
11:46 am Digging up any good cadavers, for hiding stolen organs ,. brain computer interface experiements,. we’ll find Dr. Evil,. don’t worry,.

— Posted by Rhys Hovey 34.May 30th,
8:02 pm The patented Skull and Bones icon is on the Pirates of the Caribbean poster when you enter the ride. The attempt to hide it under the veil of “pirate motif” but it’s clearing the same piece of art from the secret society.

— Posted by Rothschild

Further Reading:

Travelling Men - Fraternal Associations